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Northern Michigan University Hockey Wildcats Adds 10 Freshman Recruits | News, Sports, Jobs




Joey Larson, who plays for downstate Hartland High School, is one of 10 freshmen committed to Northern Michigan University’s hockey program. Larson became the Mr. Called Michigan Hockey. (Photo courtesy of Livinginston Daily)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University hockey team has thrown its recruiting net far and wide to find 10 freshmen to join the roster for the upcoming Wildcats season.

The 10 – two goalkeepers, three defenders and five forwards – come from the US Hockey League, British Columbia Hockey League, Alberta Junior Hockey League and North American Hockey League.

These players are slated to join Northern as the season kicks off at home to CCHA rival Bowling Green State at the Berry Events Center on October 1.

Here are details on each recruit:

Joey Larson — This forward had an impressive season with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, posting career highs last season with 66 points and 32 goals in 62 games. He led the league in playoff points with 17, including four goals, in nine games, while his 13 assists finished third in a playoff campaign in USHL Tier I history.

Before junior hockey, the downstate Brighton resident became the Mr. Named Michigan Hockey after his season at Hartland High School in 2019.

He also plans to attend the Vegas Golden Knights’ NHL Developmental Camp this summer.

“Joey Larson had one last season of junior hockey in Muskegon,” NMU notes from the coaching staff said in the university’s press release about the freshman class. Attending the USHL every night, he combined the elite scoring ability and skills with his professional frame (6-foot-1, 196 pounds). Joey was a key driver in helping Muskegon achieve a deep run in the Clark Cup playoffs, earning the interest of multiple NHL organizations.”

Tanner Latsch – This forward has a varied hockey resume on both US and international stages.

During two seasons with the US National Development Program, he helped the Americans win the 2019 Five Nations Championship. Latsch was also named in the 2020 BioSteel All-American Game.

After his time with the USNTDP, he played with Des Moines, Iowa, Buccaneers of the USHL.

“Tanner has a mix of size (6-2, 197), skating and a big release,” the Wildcats’ coaching staff noted. “His talent for shooting the puck dates back to his time playing for Wildcat Hockey alumnus Mark Beaufait with the Meijer AAA organization, throughout his career with the USNTDP and most recently with Des Moines in the USHL.

“Before having surgery at the end of the season last year, he was on pace to score more than 20 goals and was dangerous in shooting and bumper positions on power play.”

Connor Eddy – This forward was a three-year game for the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, known for combining physicality, speed and scoring on his 6-1, 200-pound frame. Last season, he scored 57 points, including 22 goals, in 39 games and earned two BCHL Player of the Month and three BCHL Player of the Week honors.

“We’ve had the chance to see Connor at Victoria over the last three seasons, and he’s made great strides in the last two seasons in particular,” he said. NMU coaches noticed. “He has a tremendous amount of energy, speed and grit that complement his ability to deliver offense. He adds another element to our lineup, one that we believe is a necessity in putting together our front group. .”

Zach Michaelis – This 6-1, 203 lb striker and native of Minnesota played for the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters last season, racking up 52 points with 28 goals in 49 games. He was named a BCHL All-Star and had league player of the month and week honors.

As a junior, he played a prominent role in Minnesota high school hockey with Elk River and earned an invite to the USNTDP evaluation camp in 2018.

“Zach is a power forward who can skate and play at top speed,” the NMU coaches noted. “He took full advantage of his role and opportunity with Trail in the BCHL and came just short of an impressive 30-goal season. Zach contributes to the speed and attacking identity of our front group.”

Nathan Butler – This Texas native and forward was a late addition to the NMU recruiting class, coming from the Corpus Christi, Texas, Ice Rays of the NAHL, played in 58 games and scored 39 points last season with 19 goals. He was selected to play in the 2022 NAHL Top Prospects Game, earning an NAHL Player of the Week honor in December.

“When we decided to add an attacker late, our staffers wanted to provide an opportunity for a junior-experienced player who had the desire, hunger and ability to push himself and others around him to get better on a daily basis.” NMU coaches noticed. “In addition, this particular player needed to have toughness, grit, physicality and a high level of competition and energy. We feel we achieved that by adding Nathan.”

Luke Gramer – A defender of the Fargo, North Dakota, Force of the USHL, this Moorhead, Minnesota native is the second freshman from Minnesota to join the Wildcats this fall.

Prior to Fargo, he led the NAHL with the Bismarck, North Dakota, Bobcats in 2020-21 with 31 points in 41 games, the leading defenseman in points per game in the league. Gramer was also captain at Moorhead High School and a first-team, all-state player in Minnesota.

“Luke is a mobile, puck-moving defender who has shown throughout his career the ability to defend while adding attacks at the same time,” That’s what NMU coaches said. “We expect him to bring a strong, competitive two-way game and draw on his experience across multiple leagues and levels to strengthen our D-core.”

Isack Bandu – A second player coming from the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, this 6-2, 194-pound defender racked up 60 points in 108 games in Victoria, where he was named as both the BCHL Island Defenseman of the Year in 2020-21 and BCHL Pod defender scoring leader.

“Isack is a dynamic defender with strong offensive instincts,” NMU coaches noticed. “During his time at Victoria, Isack was effective in producing power play outside of the rush and generating time, space and attacks for himself and others during offensive zone play.”

Josh Zinger – This Red Deer, Alberta defender had a memorable year with the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits last season, helping them win the championship and Centennial Cup. Zinger was also awarded the Stewy Stewart Memorial Trophy 2022 for his character, dedication, perseverance, integrity and sportsmanship on and off the ice. And he was second in scoring among AJHL defenders with 57 points.

Josh was one of the most prolific defenders in all of Western Canada last season. That’s what NMU coaches said. “He is an elite skater and played a pivotal role in Brooks’ championship season. He made the switch from attacker to defense less than a year ago and has embraced the move with the right mindset. We feel like he’s just scratching the surface of his potential as a defender.”

Kaeden Lane – This goalkeeper from the BCHL’s Penticton Vees made them come back in their 13th Fred Page Cup Championship. In two seasons, he went 43-4-3 with a 16-1 playoff record. Last season, his stats included a .910 save rate, 2.07 goals against average and six shutouts.

From Burnaby, British Columbia, he led the BCHL in saves and goals against in last season’s playoffs and led the league in those stats during the 2020-21 regular season. He was awarded the Wally Forslund Award as part of the best goalkeeper duo in the BCHL and has been a BCHL Player of the Week and a First Team All-Star five times.

“Kaeden comes to our program after two outstanding seasons in Penticton,” NMU coaches say. “His body of work and output during his time with the BCHL was nothing short of remarkable. We expect him to be a big part of our goalkeeper dynamics.”

Beni Halasz – This Hungarian goalkeeper played with the NAHL’s New Mexico Ice Wolves last season, with a 26-13-3 record, .921 save percentage and 2.14 GAA. He led the NAHL in shutouts with nine and was named to the 2022 NAHL Top Prospects Game. A three-time NAHL South Division Player of the Week, he plays internationally for the Hungarian national team.

“Beni joins us after two great seasons for NMU alumnus Phil Fox and the New Mexico Ice Wolves organization,” The Wildcats coaches took notice. “He was one of the best goalkeepers in the NAHL last season and helped lead his club to the Robertson Cup final.

“Besides his abilities, Beni has the personality and drive to continue to maximize his potential.”

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is [email protected]

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